Zebras paint the picture of docile animals, and to an extent, they are, the reason why many predators see them as potential food.
Some of the zebra’s predators are lions, cheetahs, leopards, and wild dogs. Humans also hunt zebras or cause them to lose their habitat through deforestation. This guide will discuss zebra predators and how they hunt the world’s most beautiful striped animals.
What Animals Eat Zebras?
Humans hunt zebra for their beautiful skin and meat. Poachers threaten wild animals in various parts of Africa, and zebras are not excluded. These poachers also go after zebras to sell their body parts for meat, hides, or medicinal purposes. Although this is illegal, people do it to get monetary gains.
Lions are one of the strongest animals in the wild, and with their predatory skills, they can easily subdue zebras. These animals are dangerous predators because they go after the older and younger zebras in a herd. Although zebras try to use some strategies to protect themselves and their young ones, they sometimes fall prey to lions.
Leopards are good runners that run as fast as 60 kilometers per hour, which disadvantages zebras. As opportunist hunters, leopards hunt animals they can kill and even steal other animals’ kill if possible. So as long as leopards and zebras share the same habitat, the weaker would always be the prey.
Cheetahs are formidable predators of zebras as they can run as fast as 112 kilometers per hour, which is faster than most animals. When zebras notice a cheetah coming after them, they try to run, and the fast cat usually catches up with them. Zebras can use their legs to kick cheetahs in defense, but sometimes they might not be successful.
African Wild Dogs
The African wild dogs prefer zebras as their prey but also go after animals like antelope when hunting. They are powerful before their prey because they hunt in a pack. When they catch and surround a zebra, they continuously bite it until it becomes weak and dies. This dog subspecies consumes large quantities of food, which could be as much as 1 kilogram. They would keep hunting and eating if they found lots of prey around.
Crocodiles go after many wild animals, and zebras are not exempted. These strong and fast water animals can easily overpower zebras and other animals because of their strength. Zebras recognize them as strong predators and would try to avoid or run away from them but sometimes fail and fall victim.
Hyenas are good hunters and a major threat to zebras, as they only need a few minutes to devour their flesh. They are also scavengers, so they don’t only go after live zebras but also eat their carcasses. Hyenas try to avoid zebra’s defensive kicks by attacking them from the rear side to catch them unaware.
Vultures are one of the scavengers that eat zebras and reside in Africa too. These birds are attracted to the smell of dead animals and their carcasses which other wild animals often kill. So zebra carcasses are a source of food for vultures.
How Do Zebras Protect and Defend Themselves From Predators?
Zebras use their large group, speed, zigzag running pattern, and kick force to protect and defend themselves from predators. Zebras run as fast as 55-70 kilometers per hour and can run in a zigzag to frustrate their enemy.
They form large groups to use their stripes as camouflage to protect themselves from predators like lions that are colorblind. Their kicks can break the jaws of crocodiles, lions, and other strong predators, which would lead to their death.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do People Eat Zebras?
Yes, people eat zebras. Although it is not encouraged, a few people still hunt them for meat. For example, in South Africa, you can get zebra meat to buy in some grills as steaks. They see zebra meat as healthy because it survives on grasses and equates them to vegetarians.
Do Cheetahs Eat Zebras?
Yes, cheetahs eat zebras. Cheetahs might seem smaller than zebras, but that does not stop them from going after them when the opportunity presents itself. Buffalos are big animals, and yet cheetahs hunt them down, so killing and eating zebras cannot be impossible for them.
Do Hyenas Eat Zebras?
Yes, hyenas eat zebras. As carnivores, hyenas feed on animal meat, and zebras are not exempted from their attacks. They usually eat the zebras alive because the animal is big, and they hunt with their pack members. Hyenas use their pack numbers to chase and catch a zebra and keep biting it until they kill it.
Do Leopards Eat Zebras?
Yes, leopards eat zebras. Leopards are stealthy and run faster than zebras. As an opportunist hunter, it hunts young, old, sick, and injured zebras. Although smaller, it prey on solitary adult zebras when hungry; if it injures the herbivore, it kills and eats it.
Do Lions Eat Zebras?
Yes, lions eat zebras. It might be challenging for a lion to kill a zebra, but the jungle king would not pass the opportunity when hungry, and if it succeeds, it gets food. However, hunting zebra with its pride members is much easier for a lion.
Do Crocodiles Eat Zebras?
Yes, crocodiles eat zebras. As ambush predators with strong bites, it is difficult for prey to escape from their grips. Although crocodiles prefer eating fish, they would oblige if it has the opportunity to hunt and kill zebras. In some cases, the zebras might escape, and at other times the crocodiles would subdue them.
Do Tigers Eat Zebras?
Tigers are carnivores that could kill and eat zebras. However, both animals are not in the same part of the world as tigers are in Asia and zebras are in Africa. So they can never have an encounter or altercation in the wild.
Is a Zebra An Apex Predator?
Zebras are not apex predators. They lack the skills and instincts that classify an animal as a predator. As herbivores who feed on grass, they are prey to various predators. However, this does not make them weak or defenseless, as they are fast and have powerful kicks. Zebras are faster than lions, and their kicks can break the king of the jungle jaw.